Azmera Hammouri-Davis named new Africana spirituality advisor

The Africana Center is pictured on May 11, 2016. Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts University Chaplaincy hired Azmera Hammouri-Davis in September as the Africana spirituality advisor. The role of Africana spirituality advisor, which in 2017 was called Africana community associate, was formerly held by the Rev. Lambert Rahming during the 2017–18 academic year.

Hammouri-Davis has spent eight years working in higher education,  formerly serving as a residential advisor for the Center for Black Culture and Student Affairs at the University of Southern California, according to the University Chaplaincy’s website.

She has worked in several different communities around the world, including Oakland, Calif., Salvador Bahia, Brazil and Ramallah, Palestine. According to the Chaplaincy’s website, she is a teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the director of Break the Boxes, a social justice movement. 

The University Chaplaincy worked with the Africana Center staff and students to consider and interview candidates during the 2019–20 academic year, according to Nora Bond, program manager of the University Chaplaincy. 

Bond explained that Hammouri-Davis will serve as an important part of the University Chaplaincy and as a resource for community members of the African diaspora. 

“The Africana Spirituality Advisor particularly serves Tufts community members of the African Diaspora, though the Advisor is trained to support anyone at Tufts. The Advisor also serves on the University Chaplaincy multifaith team, and contributes to University-wide programming for students, staff, and faculty,” Bond wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Bond emphasized the importance of the role being filled this year after remaining empty for two years. 

“It’s important to have someone in this role to add depth to the support we can offer community members, particularly Black and African American community members,” Bond said

Bond explained that the University Chaplaincy had struggled to find a strong enough candidate for the position. 

“The role itself is very unique in higher education, which can also mean that finding a good fit is not easy,” Bond said.

The search for a candidate to fill the role began last year, according to Bond.

Bond expressed her excitement about Hammouri-Davis joining the Chaplaincy and the Tufts community by recognizing her experience and her dedication to providing a comfortable space for students and faculty of the African Diaspora. 

“Azmera creates space at Tufts for all students and faculty, especially those of the African Diaspora, to grow in worship, fellowship, and community,” Bond said.

Bond cited Hammouri-Davis’ immediate connection with the Tufts community as a promising indication of her future success at the university. 

“She has a wonderful warmth about her. She connected with students, our staff, and community members, and we are lucky she chose to join us at Tufts,” Bond said

Katrina Moore, director of the Africana Center, echoed Bond’s sentiment about the importance of the role, and explained how the Africana spirituality advisor is an exciting new addition to the Africana Center.

“Azmera will work in a partnership with the University Chaplaincy and the Africana Center to provide opportunities for students to deepen their curiosity, and nourish their critical reflection around spiritual cultivation,” Moore wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Moore cited Hammouri-Davis’ enthusiasm and dedication to providing a safe space for students to ask questions about their own spirituality and beliefs.

“We are excited about her enthusiasm for the work and felt that she would be able to help our students that may be questioning their values/beliefs as well [as] assess the needs and provide creative programming for our community members to engage them,” Moore said.

Hammouri-Davis expressed her content that she will be able to serve as a member of the University Chaplaincy, and a resource for those involved with the Africana Center. 

“This role entails showing up as a resource for students of African descent, and holding spaces for them to process, question and wonder about their own spiritual journey,” Hammouri-Davis wrote in an email to the Daily. “Being chosen for this role means it’s an opportunity to call upon the many teachings I’ve been blessed with and to share those experiences and teachings with students.”

Hammouri-Davis explained how she hopes to serve as a resource to help students explore their spiritual identities. 

“Students represent so many beautiful and varying traditions within our diaspora. This role entails an appreciation for this bountiful difference and a genuine curiosity to facilitate [students’] discovery as they arrive at new, or perhaps revisit old meanings for their spiritual identity,” she said. 

Hammouri-Davis also expressed her goals for this year, hoping that students will learn more about what the University Chaplaincy has to offer.

“It’s my priority that, within the capacity that I have, I’m able to spark genuine interest and connection between students of African descent and the University Chaplaincy,” she said.